It's always been "Don't Bonk Your Head." You might think there are more important rules which should have the #1 slot, but this is our house and you need to let us set our own priorities, dammit. Do I come over there and tell you how to arrange the socks in your dresser drawers? Well, yes, I do sometimes. Bad example.
Why is this the #1 rule? you might ask. There's a simple answer: I bonked my own poor head way too frequently in the course of my accident prone youth, and I am decidedly the worse for all this melon thumping. If you know me, you know what I'm talking about. If you don't know me, it's probably because you heard stories and decided to keep your distance.
My family -- that is, my mother and siblings -- tell me it all started with a fall from a slide in Athens, Ohio. I don't remember this event, since I was two or three or some such tender age (obviously too young to be climbing up the ladder of some giant slide while my so-called responsible brother and sisters stood around and watched). I also don't remember because I landed on my HEAD. My mother says I was crying when they brought me home, but I seemed "OK". Right.
It was all downhill from that point. There were falls from bikes, blindside tackles in street football, an overthrown baseball in high school (I think I've mentioned that one), bullies -- but I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that my brain has been rattled more often than any brain ought to be.
Anyhow, that's why we have the rule. Everyone in the family -- in this case, the wife and daughters -- knows it. That's why there's not much sympathy being ladled out should a member of the household bonk her head. You break the rule, you deal with the pain. No whining.
So what happens today? I'm taking the 3-year-old for a walk in Central Park (in Roseville, not NYC) and I let her have a go at the playground. First thing she does is smack her head going under a bridge in one of those sprawling plastic constructions they call a PlaySystem or an AdventureGround or The Leviathan. I don't see this accident, but I hear the sickening thud. She is dazed, needs a bit of comforting, but carries on. I go back to reading my paper. Next thing I know, she's on her stomach and wailing, over by some large rocks. Boulders, perhaps, is a better description. I rush over to find her forehead bruised and her nose scraped.
"What happened?" I ask, a stupid question to put to a 3-year-old in distress. Getting nothing intelligible from her, I follow up with "What hurts?"
It's her head, of course. She's managed to smack her forehead on one of the rocks, hard enough to start a bruise and for her to lose the gum she was chewing. We leave the gum where it sits, on the offending rock, a testament to her folly.
I do not scold her, but I do remind her of the #1 rule, after the crying dies down a bit. This child treats her noggin as if she has another dozen in her closet. She's constantly banging it on tables, doors, toys -- you name it. She even managed to fall from the couch and come up with a button impaled in her forehead, and has a permanent scar to show for it.
What is the point of rules if no one follows them? Why have I been subjected to a life of misfortune if I cannot steer my loved ones away from the calamities I have endured?
It makes one wonder. Yep, it does. Until one forgets, as one is apt to do these days. What was I talking about?